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Aug 4, 2008 09:10 AM

DC to San Francisco Road Trip (California)

So I am leaving Washington, DC to move back to California and will be taking a long drive from one coast to the other. Two friends are joining me on this trip and the three of us would definitely like to avoid the fast food chains as much as we can.

The trip plan so far is this:

Sunday August 31
Depart in the afternoon and stop for the night somewhere in West Virginia, maybe Charleston
(I-270 to 70 to 68 to 79 to 64)

Monday Sept 1
Stop in Louisville for a late lunch with family
Stop for the night in St. Louis with family

Tuesday Sept 2
St. Louis to Denver

Wednesday Sept 3
Stay in Denver with Family

Thursday Sept 4
Denver to Salt Lake City (maybe to West Wendover, NV)
(I-25 to I-80)

Friday Sept 5
Salt Lake City to South Lake Tahoe
(I-80 to 395 to Hwy 50)

Saturday Sept 6
South Lake Tahoe to San Francisco
(Hwy 50 to I-80)

I am looking for recommendations that are cheap (less than $10-15 for lunch and less than $15-20 for dinner) and quick (not more than ten miles off the freeway and we don't want to sit down for an hour). Anything with local color would be appreciated and if it is really worth it, we might waive either the cheap or quick guideline. We are open to any and all types of cuisine.

I am looking for help with the road food and not really for the cities that we're stopping in. We'll be with family and friends for every stop except for West Virginia and Salt Lake City.

I am posting this in several boards so for this one I guess the focus could be on the last leg of the trip. Is there anything great between South Lake Tahoe and San Francisco? and if you have any recommendations for the rest of the trip, I'd love to hear those too.


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  1. From Lake Tahoe to SF you may want to stop at Ikeda's. Quick and off the freeway and long time favorites of travelers from the Bay Area to Tahoe.

    13500 Lincoln Way, Auburn, CA 95603

    1 Reply
    1. re: PeterL

      I thought of Ike's and Katrina's Cafe in Auburn, as well, but noticed that the OP appears to be leaving from S Lake Tahoe and will be on Hwy 50. Haven't been down that road in a long time.

    2. I just realized that you are going to South Lake Tahoe. Which way are you going to take from Tahoe to SF? Hwy 50 or I-80?

      2 Replies
      1. re: PeterL

        We're hoping to stop in and stay with a friend in South Lake Tahoe and would take 50 to Sacramento. I haven't cleared it with the friend yet, so if we don't stay with him Ikeda's sounds like a good call. Thanks

        I updated the post to make it clearer.

        1. re: jrsmoltz

          there are some good cafes etc around Folsum Lake. You might not be hungry till then if you have b'fast at Tahoe before heading down the hill.

          Gold Miner Cafe in Folsum is one I recall seeing recc'd, and a couple places in Davis, just west of Sac on the way to SF. Davis is a nice college town, bicycles everywhere, would be kinda quiet now that school's out for the summer (UofC at Davis)

      2. After driving 9217 miles in a loop from San Francisco to Austin, New Orleans, Charleston... Manhattan, Burlington VT... the Black Hills and Badlands of SD... and home to SF in July—the best eating on I-80 was lunch in Elko, NV.

        B.J. Bull Bakery has my fave cornish pasties. I like the cabbage and beef. We also brought home a rhubarb pie and I wished we'd had two! This is a not-to-miss stop in Elko, NV

        If you're in Truckee or Reno, then sandwiches at Squeeze In are very good.
        Truckee's Squeeze In will be opening in Reno in November or December with its huge omelettes (62) and wonderful sandwiches (35). My fave of the sandwiches is the #14 Grilled Jumpin' Joanna; pastrami, onion, tomato and Swiss cheese for $8.50 with the homemade pasta salad.

        If you are leaving from D.C., then Martinsburg, WV is probably too early to stop for eats - but the Warm Springs Eatery has good breakfast, crab cakes, ... and pie!
        128 Warm Springs Ave. Martinsburg, WV (304) 264.0410

        other stops for pie:
        Wall Drug
        510 Main St.
        Wall, SD

        in Jackson Hole, WY
        The Bunnery

        and for the best breakfast of trout + eggs + sour jacks, go to
        Jedediah's Original House of Sourdough
        135 East Broadway
        (it's great for lunch, too - closes at 2pm

        B.J. Bull Bakery
        208 Idaho Street, Elko, NV

        1 Reply
        1. re: Cynsa

          BJ. Bull Bakery
          Before settling in Elko, the owner, Paul Dunbar, sold his cornish pasties at Jack London Square in Oakland, CA. The cornish pasties are the real deal. He bottles his own sauce, too.